The Coffee Mug

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I pick up the mug carefully. The coffee cup fits perfectly between my fingers. I press its rubber lip against mine and think back to what it was like holding her for the first time.

So soft and perfect. Just like silk, she unraveled in my arms.

The coffee is hot to the touch. The second it hits my tongue, I feel the burn.

Her eyes were shifty. Should I have known then? What could I have done? What could I have said?

The steam rises into my nostrils and I’m steeped. Stumped. Stirring in thought.

I didn’t have to catch her. I knew she was away even when she was home. The way she kept checking her phone. Her wedding ring, conveniently left on the counter.

The coffee is too hot. It’s too much. It’s spilling over before I can contain it.  I feel it boiling the sides of my fingers. I’m startled. Jumping. Rattled to the core.

“It’s just not going to work out.” She said it before I could. “I’ve met someone else.” Her words echo.

I jump back and watch. I can’t grab it. I can’t hold on.  The cup smashes against the floor and pieces of a whole are now splitting. Fragmented and broken, its hard edges shatter.

Mr. Coffee

Mr. Coffee sat pushed off to the far counter in the office kitchen. On the front table sat a brand new, black and slick Keurig.

“What are you doing here?” The Keurig asked.

“I think the question is what are YOU doing here?”

“They just bought me yesterday. I assumed I would be the new coffee machine for the office.”

“I’ve been here for eight years. I will be here for another eight years.”

The Keurig stared at Mr. Coffee critically. His bulky white frame was splotched with brown fluid that had stained the center of his small pot belly. There were cracks along the side of him that stuck out like an un-made up old woman. “You couldn’t possibly still work here.”

“I’ve worked here and many other places,” Mr. Coffee laughed. “You’re still young, you haven’t seen the world like I have. Before this office, I had a life far from here, working in the best of places.”

“And where would that be?” The Keurig scoffed.

“I was first taken out of the box in Brazil. A beautiful rich woman had to have me. She was covered in jewels and had the best servants around the country. They were so good, that they brought her finely brewed coffee every morning straight to her bed.”

“Then why did she need you?”

“One day she met a man. A tall, dark, ruddy man. He had pieces of dirt from working outside in the garden stuck to his tee shirt. He had strong hands and strong cheekbones. The woman said to her mother, a man with strong cheekbones is a man with strong character. And although her mother disapproved, the rich woman saw no other man that could compare.

‘So every day she would sit in the garden and talk to this man. She would ask him how his day was going to which he would reply, ‘how do you know what work is? You have servants to do everything for you.’ After about a month of this, the woman thought to herself ‘how hard could gardening be?’ She picked up a shovel and started digging along side the young man. But alas, she wasn’t strong enough. The dirt was hard and clammed up every time she struck the shovel into the ground. The young man laughed and said again ‘how do you know what work is?’

‘Instead of gardening, she decided she would try her hand at cooking. How hard could it be? She had seen her cook make lavish meals with an ease that pleased her as much as the meal. Surely she could cook something nice and feed the young man, she thought. When she saw the giant kitchen with cabinets filled with all sorts of different products and recipes she didn’t know where to start. Choosing a delicate but complicated cake recipe, she added an ingredient she thought was just as good as the other and substituted baking powder for baking soda.  The cake was a disgrace. “How do you know what work is?” Rang in her ears.

‘Finally one day she decided that if she could not work the way that most people could work, then she would start small until she could. She got rid of all of her morning servants and instead bought me. From that day forth she made her own coffee and with each brew she grew increasingly confident of her abilities. By the end of the year she had won The Most Beautiful Cake competition. Together the young man and the rich woman sat outside in the garden eating the whole thing, piece by piece.”

The Keurig thought about this for a moment before responding. “But why would anyone want to make their own coffee anymore? These people at the office aren’t rich. They don’t have servants to find them fresh brew.”

“No,” Mr. Coffee said, “I suppose that’s a lost art to some. But when you break down, and all fancy things must break, they will remember the sturdiness of their hands and then they will know that that I am only a counter away.”

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